Posted on Valentine's Day 2021 via the independent media group Date Night China's WeChat, this piece discusses 14 songs about love from Chinese and Taiwanese artists to help set the mood for your Valentine's Day. Accompanying playlists of the songs discussed are available on both Spotify and NetEase Music (网易云音乐) via QR codes below.
See the original posting on Date Night China's WeChat here.
Search sayings about music and love and the results you get back are endless. From quotes about how music is the raw manifestation of human emotions to memes about how music is someone’s boyfriend, music and love are two sides of the same coin. As Hans Christian Andersen put it “where words fail, music speaks.”
I’m sure most of you, if not all, have experienced firsthand how love can make you speechless and, once you’ve been swept up in the euphoria and torment that is love, any song concerning how it can be overpowering and intoxicating resonates with you…deeply. It plucks your heartstrings and triggers tears, usually stirring-up memories of love lost. In other words, when it comes to expressing how much of a psychological rollercoaster love can be, music is the purest means of expression.
A staple of young love, the mixtape, compilation album or, nowadays, the well-thought-out digital playlist is probably the most passionate and intimate act of romantic devotion that someone can do.
My dad knew this.
The first time my parents went on a date was under the pretense of making a mixtape. After dating for a year and a half, my dad gave his mum a call excitingly exclaiming that him and my mother had just done the greatest thing any two people can do together. “You eloped?” my Grannie asked. “No,” dad replied, “we put our record collections together.”
A love song, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “a lyrical, musical, or poetic expression of romantic love.” From mainstream hits to underground anthems you can dance to, what follows is a list of 14 love songs from Chinese and Taiwanese artists to make your Valentine’s Day playlist as eclectic and diverse as love itself.
For your listening pleasure, playlists of the songs discussed below are available on both Spotify and NetEase Music. Scan the QR codes at the bottom of this post.
However, even though all songs are available on both platforms, some of the songs were unable to be included on the NetEase Music playlist. This is because I am currently stuck outside of China and NetEase Music has geographical restrictions with some songs. But with a quick search of the artist and/or song title, you will find the track you are looking for.
Now let’s dive into the warm and, sometimes, suffocating embrace that is love amplified.
Translation: The Moon Represents My Heart; pinyin: yuèliàng dàibiǎo wǒ de xīn
Artist: Teresa Tang 邓丽君 (dèng lìjūn)
You can’t talk about Chinese love songs without including 《月亮代表我的心》. This quintessential KTV classic is not a Teresa Tang (邓丽君) original, however she did arguably make this masterpiece popular in 1977. According to Baidu, this classic ballad was a joint effort between 孙仪 (sūn yí) and 翁清溪 (wēng qīngxī) and was first heard in the early 1970s on the Taiwanese popstar 陈芬兰 (chén fēnlán)’s 1973 release Dreamland《梦乡》(mèng xiāng).
Since Teresa Tang (邓丽君)’s crowd-pleasing rendition in 1977, 《月亮 代表我的心》has been considered by many to be the ultimate Chinese love song and it’s easy to hear why. The eloquent instrumentals that soar and descend like a waltz’s melody interwoven with Teresa’s enchanting voice are as illuminating as the moon that poetically symbolizes the genuine, profound love that is being professed in the lyrics. It is just beautiful and is a song you will find yourself randomly humming throughout the day. Total earworm.
Pinyin: wàng yǎn yù chuān; a chengyu that means to eagerly expect something or somebody; to anxiously await.
Artist: Xi-tong Zhong 中童西 (zhōng tóngxī)
Being wronged in love can be one of the most excruciating moments in someone’s life, as this tune by Chinese singer Xi-ting Zhong (中童西) hauntingly expresses. Released on the indie record label Modern Sky’s 2012 compilation album Modern Sky 7, 《望眼欲穿》 is an eerie outcry of the emotional response and inner dialogue someone goes through after being walked out on, yet still lusting for the one who hurt them.
Written as if talking to the persecutor, the lyrics of 《望眼欲穿》states that even though Xi-tong Zhong (中童西) has suitors she can’t get rid of, and the guy who left her isn’t the only good guy like he assumes, she still can’t stop thinking about him and yearns for him to come back. Ruminating on the “good guy” and his actions, the fluid, string-dominant and electronic instrumentals complement Xi-ting Zhong (中童西)’s soft, almost child-like vocals, giving this song a dream-like ambiance.
《望眼欲穿》was unable to be included in the NetEase Music playlist. Search for either 中童西 (zhōng tóngxī) and/or《望眼欲穿》(wàng yǎn yù chuān).
Translation: I Want to Be With You; pinyin: wǒ xiǎng hé nǐ yīqǐ
Artist: Wendy Wander 溫蒂漫步 (wēndì mànbù)
When you find the one that you want to experience the thick and thin of life with, you just know. 《我想和你一起》comes off of the Taiwanese quintet Wendy Wander’s 2020 release Spring Spring and portrays this realization perfectly. Using metaphors of the ocean and storm clouds, this truly is one of those songs that touches your soul and, with its sultry, groovy blend of smooth jazz and slow rock, will cause you to dance and sing along like no one is watching.
4. Ti Amo
Artist: After Journey 艾福杰尼 (ài fú jié ní)
The only hip-hop song included on this playlist, After Journey (艾福杰尼)’s “Ti Amo” shows how universal the language of love truly is. Singing in Chinese, Italian and a little English, the Xinjiang rapper codeswitches between the three languages effortlessly, allowing the rhythm to guide the words into an aural tapestry about the ups and downs of being in love and just wanting to be with your beloved, even if it’s temporary and painful.
“Ti Amo” comes off of After Journey (艾福杰尼)’s 2018 sophomore album 《楼兰》(lóulán).
Translation: Gotta Love You; pinyin: bùdébù ài
Artists: Wilbur Pan 潘瑋柏 (pān wěibǎi) & Xianzi 弦子(xiánzi)
From start to finish, this catchy pop song is a textbook example of Chinese pop from the early 2000s. Incorporating traditional Chinese instrumentals and hip electronic beats to create your new guilty pleasure, this duet between Wilbur Pan (潘瑋柏) and Xianzi (弦子) is a sonic sonnet that gives words to what it’s like to be crazy in love and how sometimes you just can’t help but love someone, even when they’re not the best for you. Hence the song title.
《不得不爱》comes off of Wilbur Pan (潘瑋柏)’s 2005 album《高手》(translation: Expert; pinyin: gāoshǒu).
Translation: Rainbow; pinyin: cǎihóng
Artist: Jay Chou 周杰伦 (zhōu jiélún)
Another KTV classic, Jay Chou (周杰伦)’s《彩虹》is a remorseful tale of love after splitting-up. With its simple instrumentals and colorful metaphors, 《彩虹》is a great song to learn the lyrics to for any Mandarin Chinese student. But take heed, it’s another earworm that will leave you humming the melody at odd times, anticipating your next time to KTV.《彩虹》comes off the album《我很忙》(translation: I’m Busy; pinyin: wǒ hěn máng) that was released in 2007.
Fun trivia fact: According to Baidu,《彩虹》is an extended version of “First Kiss,” the incidental music for the movie《不能说的秘密》(bùnéng shuō de mìmì). Translated as Secret, this movie was directed and starred in by Jay Chou (周杰伦) himself and tells a story of adolescent love.
《彩虹》was unable to be included in the NetEase Music playlist. Search for either Jay Chou 周杰伦 (zhōu jiélún) and/or《彩虹》(cǎihóng).
Translation: I Will Love You; pinyin: wǒ huì hěn ài nǐ
Artist: Jerry Yan 言承旭 (yán chéngxù)
Jerry Yan (言承旭)’s《我会很爱妳》is a feel-good pop song about being so in love that you’re skyrocketed to cloud 9. This Taiwanese heartthrob’s sugar-sweet timbre and confession of undying love and commitment is just as sappy as any heartwarming romantic comedy. But, sometimes the soul just needs a little chicken soup.
《我会很爱妳》comes off of Jerry Yan (言承旭)’s 2009 solo release《多出来的自由》(translation: Freedom; pinyin: Duō chūlái de zìyóu).
Translation: Now Until Forever; pinyin: xiànzài dào yǒngyuǎn
Artist: Gao Qi & The Overload Band 高旗及超载乐队 (gāo qí jí chāozài yuèduì)
When I asked one of my closest Chinese friends what song he would include in a playlist for Valentine’s Day, he instantly recommended this one. I can see why. With its 90s trance feel and frontman Goa Qi (高旗)’s captivating vocals, this rock ballad is just as catchy and moving as any pop song about love eternal.
《现在到永远》comes off of Gao Qi & The Overload Band’s 2002 album《生命是一次奇遇》（translation: Life Is An Adventure; pinyin: shēngmìng shì yīcì qíyù).
Translation: Love Song; pinyin: qíng gē
Artist: 秋天的虫子 (Translation: Autumn Insect; pinyin: qiūtiān de chóngzi)
With a title that directly translates into English as “Love Song,”《情歌》’s lyrics expresses the inner anguish of being in unrequited love. Possessing a serious darkwave vibe, this industrial dirge will leave you as lovesick and perplexed as when you’re consumed by love that goes unreciprocated.
《情歌》comes off of 秋天的虫子’s 2015 album《白乐章》(rough translation: White Musical Movement; pinyin: bái yuèzhāng).
Translation: Temporary Lover/Supernumerary Lover; pinyin: biānwài àirén
Artist: Byebye Noise 白噪音乐队 (bái zàoyīn yuèduì)
Since their inception in 2012, Beijing’s Byebye Noise is arguably one of the most celebrated modern Chinese indie rock bands to date. They’re just great. From the brilliant instrumental compositions to the poetic wit of the lyrics, Byebye Noise creates tunes that any mega-audiophile will fall head-over-heels for. 《编外爱人》is no exception. With a title that translates roughly as either “Temporary Lover” or “Supernumerary Lover,” this song is reflective homage of love that has soured, leaving you perpetually engulfed in a state of dismal uncertainty and indescribable anguish. Love truly can be the bane of existence.
《编外爱人》comes off of Byebye Noise’s 2018 EP 《探险者之春》(rough translation: An Explorer’s Life; pinyin: tànxiǎnzhě zhī chūn).
Translation: Shanghai Lover; pinyin: shànghǎi àirén
Artist: Da Bang 大棒 (dà bàng)
Da Bang’s《上海爱人》is an indie rock track to reminisce about that past love that ended too soon. Sung entirely in English, the funk forward style of《上海爱人》will get you up on your feet, dancing spellbound in synthesized solace.
《上海爱人》comes off of Da Bang’s 2011 release entitled《少年邪》(translation: Bone Hug; pinyin: shàonián xié).
《上海爱人》was unable to be included in the NetEase Music playlist. Search for either大棒（dà bàng）and/or《上海爱人》(shànghǎi àirén).
Translation:《霓虹甜心》(pinyin: ní hóng tiánxīn)
Artist: Mosaic 马赛克乐队 (pinyin: mǎsàikè yuèduì)
Made of bright monochromatic suit sets, 80s throwback, and probably a little neon glitter, Chengdu’s Mosaic will get your feet moving and your hips swaying with their dance anthem “Darling.” From the dreamlike chimes opening to the catchy chorus you will find yourself singing, “Darling” is a fun-loving tune to rave to. With bilingual lyrics that discuss the art of getting a girl’s attention on the dance floor and how she and this moment affects you, this earworm is one you will play on repeat excessively.
“Darling” was first released as a single in 2018 and then included on Mosaic’s third album《劲歌热舞》(rough translation: Singing and Dancing; pinyin: jìnggē rèwǔ) which was released the same year.
“Darling”《霓虹甜心》was unable to be included in the NetEase Music playlist. Search for either 马赛克(mǎsàikè) and/or《霓虹甜心》(ní hóng tiánxīn).
13. Devil Woman
Artist: Ramblin’ Roze
From UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” and Judas Priest’s “Prisoner of Your Eyes” to more obscure classics like Holocaust’s “Push It Around” and Angel Witch’s “Angel Witch,” women who leave men spellbound and lusting for their touch is a frequently used lyrical concept in heavy metal and hard rock.
Ramblin’ Roze’s “Devil Woman,” off of their 2020 release Howl of The Coomb, continues this tradition of the seductress. Hailing from Beijing, Ramblin’ Roze on “Devil Woman” fuses guitar solos that seep emotion and soaring vocals that portray the woes and longings of the seduced. Best if listened to at 11.
14. Sweet Baby
Artist: Rolling Bowling 旋转保龄乐队 (pinyin: xuánzhuǎn bǎo líng yuèduì)
We’re going to end this list with a Rockabilly anthem about being so infatuated with someone that you’re beside yourself. Codeswitching between English and Chinese, Rolling Bowling on their song “Sweet Baby” brings out all the stops to create a double bass dominant crowd-pleaser.
Proudly brandishing that classic Rockabilly musical style, this song is as sexy as the sweetheart that’s being sung about. “Sweet Baby” is a total foot-stomper and finger snapper and comes off of the trio’s 2013 debut《我不喜欢结婚》(translation: I Don’t Like Marriage; pinyin: wǒ bù xǐhuān jiéhūn).
“Sweet Baby” was unable to be included in the NetEase Music playlist. Search for either 旋转保龄 (xuánzhuǎn bǎo líng) and/or “Sweet Baby.”